Study: New heat-based targeted breast cancer treatment has promise

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The application of miniscule bioprobes shows promise with the use of molecularly targeted therapeutic heat to kill malignant breast cancer cells—without damaging nearby healthy tissue, according to a study published in the March issue of Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Various studies have evaluated the application of heat to treat cancer, however “the inability to deposit effective doses of heat in a tumor without applying similar heat to nearby normal tissue has prevented widespread clinical use,” said Sally J. DeNardo, professor of internal medicine and radiology with the School of Medicine at the University of California Davis in Sacramento. “Our animal study, which combined the future-oriented sciences of nanotechnology and molecular imaging, shows that a method for delivering thermal ablation—removing or destroying cancer cells by using heat—is feasible.”

 “This exciting study—combining radiolabeled antibodies with nanoparticles or bioprobes—provides a new approach to direct thermal ablation specifically to tumor cells,” she added.

This particular heat treatment is in the a developmental stage, additional tests will need to be performed with cancer patients.

For the study, scientists from UC Davis and Triton BioSystems in Boston, Mass., injected trillions of magnetic iron-containing bioprobes into the bloodstream of a lab mouse bearing a human cancer tumor. The magnetic iron nanoprobes are concealed in polymers and sugars and are nearly invisible to the body’s immune system. Antibodies on these probes latch onto the surface of tumor cells. Through a process involving the alteration of the magnetic field heat is created which has been found to destroy cancer cells.

 “Using heat to kill cancer cells isn’t a new concept. The biggest problems with using heat are how to apply it to the tumor cell alone, how to determine its effectiveness and how to predict the amount needed,” said DeNardo. “By using heat, along with nanoparticles and a radiolabeled antibody, our quantitative imaging directed, and made safer, the application and development of therapy for cancer,” she added.

“This technique could join other cancer therapies, especially for cancers that are hard to treat now, such as breast cancer and metastatic melanoma.”

More detailed information is available in the “Thermal Dosimetry Predictive for Efficacy of 111In-ChL6 Nanoparticle AMF–Induced Thermoablative Therapy for Human Breast Cancer in Mice” article, published by the Society of Nuclear Medicine.